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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Army Ready For Switch to 12 Months

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told the State Duma on Wednesday that the armed forces were prepared for the switch from compulsory service terms of 18 months to 12 months next year.

"I think we are ready for this transition," Serdyukov said, Interfax reported. The address was Serdyukov's first before the Duma since President Vladimir Putin appointed the former furniture store manager turned taxman to head the Defense Ministry in February.

The ministry has only just completed the transition from a system in which conscripts served for 24 months to the current 18 months. The changes are part of ongoing reforms aimed at turning the armed forces into a more professional and better-armed body.

Serdyukov said the reduction in length of service would require improving training for specialists in the ranks. Currently, conscripts spend six months training to acquire a specialization.

One element of the reform would see some men of conscription age undergoing vocational training before being called up, said Viktor Zavarzin, chairman of the Duma's Defense Committee.

Following the address, Serdyukov remained for a question-and-suggestion period, which included a proposal from Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov to transfer the Navy's headquarters from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

Gryzlov also promised the defense minister that the Duma would pass legislation ensuring that enough apartments would be built to provide housing for all armed forces officers by 2012.